In my post "Will destination marketers see the opportunities in mobile?" I discussed some of the opportunities that DMOs have when it comes to the mobile space.
I also discussed how destinations have the leg up when it comes to aggregating local and regional content.
It would seem that some DMOs are actually making some positive steps towards embracing and potentially leveraging the mobile space to market their destinations more effectively.
One such destination is British Columbia. Yes, I live in BC, but that isn't the reason why I am profiling them specifically.
The reason, quite simply, is because they have done a really nice job of building an app that most closely reflects my recommendations.
The iPhone application is called "Near me B.C." and is available for download now through the App Store
. On first pass it's not exactly the most attractive application to look at but it does have over 4,000 restaurants, attractions, accommodations, and things to do in B.C. So here are my thoughts based a few simple criteria:
- Design: The interface is sterile and corporate, not at all inspiring or interesting. But, as a first pass, it's a good start focusing more on the important content then the look and feel. Compare that to TripWolf's app for example which has a really nice design and elegant interface but is lacking in the depth and breadth of content. Once Tourism B.C. (or whatever they are called now) figure out how to combine the content they have with an inspiring interface, they will have a clear winner on their hands.
- Functionality: The app is very simple and easy to use providing quick access to listings and details about attractions, sites, and restaurants that are close to you. You can search for items, find their location on a map, and get directions. What is lacking is any form of social interactivity such as reviews and ratings, or recommendations based on category. With some many choices, a visitor may not have any idea how good a particular restaurant really is. Having reviews, whether provided by a third party review site like TripReviews or perhaps aggregated by a site like Uptake, may provide more context to the generic listings provided by the app.
- Content: Ah, this is where the app really shines. The depth and breadth of the content is unmatched when compared to other B.C. travel guides. Where TripWolf and LonelyPlanet have between nine and thirty restaurants listed for Vancouver, the Near Me B.C. app has over 400. But there is a limit to how many choices you can provide a traveller before the ability to make a decision becomes next to impossible. This is where some social tools or user generated ratings and reviews may help to sort out the wheat from the chaff.
- Overall: This is a really strong start for a destination like B.C. and provides a solid framework for future development. The key with this app and all apps that are similar is that the features are great but the content is king. You can do a lot in terms of narrowing choices for consumers and identifying the top restaurants or attractions if you have all the data to work with. In this case, B.C. is in a good position to be able to provide a strong value add for visitors to the region by providing a tool that is both comprehensive and functional. As I mentioned before, however, the app is not just an information tool but a way to inspire visitors to explore and experience B.C. As an inspirational tool, the app still needs work. The good news is, that building in the ability to inspire is no where as complex as trying to aggregate data from 4,000 suppliers across the province.